The voters of Somerset have spoken and shown their support for Stronger Somerset – the plan for two councils, an Eastern Somerset and a Western Somerset council – to replace Somerset’s existing five county and district councils.
The result of the local poll, which closed on Friday 4th June, was delivered on Monday June 7th by Civica Electoral Services, who independently ran and verified the ballot.
The result, as announced publicly by the District Council Leaders, are as follows.
Result of Somerset poll on local government reform:
|Total votes cast||111,589|
|Total votes counted||111,108|
|Total eligible voters||436,607|
In a joint statement the Leaders of the four District Councils of Somerset said: “This is a crystal clear message to the Secretary of State from the people of Somerset. The option for change they prefer is the Stronger Somerset plan for two unitary councils.”
“There are potentially significant changes ahead for local government in Somerset that will affect residents’ services and their quality of life for decades to come. We believed it was important that the residents of Somerset were given a proper say in their future in a simple and democratic way.”
“We put our faith in the voters of Somerset to make up their own minds by organising a local poll, independently run and verified, while others took every opportunity to discredit the poll and to stifle debate.”
“The government claims they had thousands of responses to their consultation, but they cannot say for sure how many came from Somerset residents. More than 111,000 residents have now had their say in this poll – that’s a huge number and cannot be ignored.”
“We thank everyone who has voted in this poll. Their voices must now be taken account of in the decision-making process.”
“People have considered the merits of the options before them, they have made their choice – people prefer their local government more local. So, let’s have the decision from the Secretary of State and let’s move forward together to a Stronger Somerset.”
A spokesman for Somerset County Council adds: “We have been clear from the outset that this was a deeply flawed, biased and expensive exercise. Residents, businesses and other organisations that are key to local government services in Somerset had already had a well organised and accessible opportunity to make their views known on this matter – through the government’s official consultation.”
“The Secretary of State will now make his decision of which proposal best meets the three tests he set out in his invitation to submit proposals for local government reorganisation in the county: a unitary council should improve local government in the county; the proposal should command a good deal of local support in the round; and a unitary council should have a population between 300,000 and 600,000.”
“Any members of the public who would like to be involved in helping to develop the future of local government in Somerset are invited to join one of the consultative groups that we will be creating – for more information please click here.”